Buhari, Saraki strike deal over $29.9bn loan request

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President Muhammadu Buhari and Senate President Bukola Saraki may have made up on the $29.9billion loan approval which the executive is seeking from the Senate, it was learnt last night.

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Buhari and Saraki are understood to have met three times on the issue in the last few days since the Senate turned down the request last week.

Saraki has already admitted that the loan request may be re-presented by the executive.

This, the Presidency may do later this week, sources said yesterday.

But there is a caveat: the Senate may refer the request to its Committee on Local and Foreign Debts, headed by Mallam Shehu Sani.

The Senate hinged its rejection of the loan request last week to inadequate information by the Presidency.

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The loan is expected to be used for the provision of key infrastructure.

It was gathered that during the interactive sessions between Buhari and Saraki, the Senate President was able to clarify that the Red chamber was not out to sabotage the executive arm.

A top source privy to the meetings said: “Following consultations, the President and the Senate President have agreed that the request for the $29.9billion loan be presented again to the Senate.

“All things being equal, the fresh request might be forwarded to the Senate with all the details as demanded by the Senate.

“But the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts, which is headed by Sen. Sani will still go through the request and vet the desirability or otherwise of the loan.

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“The recommendations of the committee will determine the final decision of the Senate on the loan.”

Saraki had on Friday spoken on the Senate’s relationship with the Executive as far as the loan is concerned, saying: “We should not look at that as a reflection of the relationship. Don’t let us politicize very important issues. As we said this is work in progress”.

On the purpose of his visit to the Presidential Villa, he said: “I came here to pray; I have finished praying and I just had a general felicitation with the President. It didn’t go beyond that.”

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President Buhari’s letter to the Senate was titled “Request for Approval of Federal Government 2016 – 2018 External Borrowing (Rolling) Plan”.

He said the external borrowing plan would be used for infrastructure, Agriculture, Health, Education, Water supply , Growth and employment generation , poverty reduction through social safety net programmes and governance and financial management reforms etc.

He said: “The total cost of the projects and programmes under the borrowing (rolling) plan is $29.960billion made up of proposed projects and programmes loan of $11.274billion, Special National Infrastructure projects $10.686billion, Euro bonds of $4.5 billion and Federal Government budget support of $3.5billion.”

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